Unformatted text preview: gid recursive cycles.
♦♦♦♦♦ Chapter 4: Strategic & Systemic
Hoffman, L. (1980). The family life cycle: a framework for family therapy. New
York: Gardner. Ch 3. The Family Life Cycle and Discontinuous Change.” 53-57.
In this article Lynn Hoffman integrates common, though sometimes ignored,
observations about the surprising ways families change, together with the
scientific research on change process models, particularly those drawn from
biology or physics. She outlines mechanisms for change that expand the family
system’s cybernetic view, reexamines the meaning of symptoms, and suggests
ways that therapists can intervene with families in crisis to foster creative leaps
in functioning. She also relates these observations to the family life cycle.
The systems model of families is, at its core, a homeostatic model. Most
behaviors, particularly symptomatic behaviors, are thought to keep the family
functioning within a relatively unvarying range with respect to such
characteristics as closeness, independence, power structures, and the like. When
the system threatens to exceed that range, feedback mechanisms work to bring
the behaviors back into a familiar static state. The model would predict that
when change occurs, it happens slowly. Hoffman suggests that the model is
compelling, in part, because it seems to explain the apparent “stuckness” that
family therapists observe. Family members’ tenacious resistance implies that
they need the symptom to maintain equilibrium.
But as Hoffman observes, families often do not change in a smooth continuous
progression. Instead, they make sudden, often creative, shifts – called
discontinuous changes – either on their own or in therapy. Platt (cited in Hoffman,
1980) distinguishes three kinds of change, depending on the type of system. If
the system is externally designed, like an engine, then change will have to be
made by someone outside, like a mechanic. If it is internally designed, like a
flower that contains a genetic blueprint, change occurs through mutations of the
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- Spring '09
- Family therapy, therapist, Jay Haley, Nichols & Schwartz